In an era before jet airplanes Parnamirim Air Field in Natal, Rio do
Sul, Brazil was one of several air bases in Brazil that helped the
American planes, ships, men and material to reach North Africa. This
was called "The Springboard for Victory".
I have provided links for you to find information along with some
details of the operations.
Background information: Brazil Goes to War
"One could argue which was the main reason why Brazil entered the
Second World War. In the early 40's, as a result of the diplomatic
actions for the "good vicinity" politics, led by Pres. Roosevelt,
fascist - oriented Brazilian strong man, Getúlio Vargas, had to
realign his political cores with big brother United States, fighting
for Democracy and the Free World.
Brazil was a very important strategic point for the Allies in the more
intense scale of war in Europe and North Africa. Right after Pearl
Harbor in 41, Brazil cut relations with Axis countries. Sooner, United
States was engaged in the war in Europe and North Africa. All this
settled, in a short time there were several air bases in Brazilian
land to help the American planes, ships, men and material reach North
Africa, in what was called "The Springboard for Victory ". It is said
that the American Air base in the city of Recife was one of the
busiest in the world at that time.
This base along with another in the city of Natal, helped men,
equipment and provisions reach North Africa, since these bases were in
the Northeast seashore of Brazil. At the same time, American Army
instructors started to train Brazilian troops and supply equipment to
Brazilian Army, Navy and Air Force, in the hay days of 1942. With all
this privileges to Roosevelt and the war effort of the Allies, the
German U Boats that once were routing through the South Atlantic,
using bases in Argentina and Chile, started to sink as many merchant
ships as they could, being many of this ships with Brazilian flag, in
An account by: Sam Hewitt 15th Air Force WWII POW
"I do not remember how many other stops we made before leaving the USA
for Natal, Brazil in South America; but I do remember when the MPs
tried to stop us as we were taking off for Brazil. They wanted to
arrest the copilot and the tail gunner. It seems there was a 10
o'clock curfew for enlisted..."
"We were held over in Natal for three weeks for various reasons much
to our delight. We were not allowed to go into the town but were
allowed to go to the beach. The beach had white clean sand with
pineapples and coconuts abundantly available about 100 yards from the
water. For 25 cents the natives provided us with all the fresh ripe
delicious pineapples we could eat. But the neatest thing was the
water itself. It was warm and so salty you could literally lay on
your back in it and go to sleep."
"When we landed at Dakar we knew the honey moon was over. The
atmosphere was as different as night and day from how it was at Natal.
The place was hot, smelly, and desolate and we were immediately
placed under strict military authority."
Going "Over There" S/Sgt. Wilbur E. Bagby 489th Bombardment Squadron
2nd photo shows a view of Parnamirim Field. Natal, Brazil
3rd photo - Natal, Brazil, before the Atlantic crossing.
Note the gear stowed in the nose. The fellow squatting in the middle
must think he's on vacation --- shorts, barefoot....
A view of the MEDICAL DEPARTMENT, UNITED STATES ARMY
The South Atlantic Area by Colonel George E. Leone, MC (Ret.)
"The U.S. Government, in July 1941, agreed to cooperate with Brazil in
the protection of her vulnerable northeast coastline. A contract was
made with a Pan American World Airways subsidiary, the Airport
Development Program, to build and operate airbases at Natal, Bahia,
and São Luís. Airbases had already been built in Africa under the
Airport Development Program so that the South Atlantic air route from
the United States to Africa, Great Britain, and the Far East was
established through Brazil. In conjunction with the operation of these
bases and equally important to the Allied cause was the permission
granted by the Brazilian Government to use them for refueling and
servicing American-built Lend-Lease aircraft, manned by civilian
crews, bound for the British Royal Air Force. Shortly after the United
States declared war, unrestricted ferrying of personnel and materiel
by the U.S. Army through these bases was allowed."
"On 22 August 1942, Brazil declared war on Germany and Italy, the
first South American country to do so."
"As soon as the Brazilian airbases were completed, the Army Air Forces
Ferrying Command assumed refueling and servicing duties. The pace of
operations increased. By June 1942, the Ferrying Command was
reorganized as the South Atlantic Wing of the Air Transport Command;
it operated from the U.S. Army Base in British Guiana and moved to
Natal when Brazil joined the Allies as a cobelligerent. The South
Atlantic Wing functioned as the operational agency of all U.S. Army
activities in Brazil until the activation of U.S. Army Forces, South
Atlantic, on 24 November 1942, at Recife."
Venereal disease control unit.
"As an integral part of the Preventive Medicine Sub-Section, venereal
disease control was supervised by a Medical Corps officer. Although
the total theater strength did not exceed 10,000 men, the stations
were scattered and the operation of an efficient and coordinated
program required considerable effort. Difficulty was experienced with
venereal disease at Natal, and intensive efforts were directed at that
base. The important task of preventing disease among combat crews en
route to active fronts required constant vigilance by all commanders.
Liaison was maintained with Brazilian authorities concerned with
control work, but results were discouraging."
"Medical service for U.S. military and civilian personnel was
furnished by four station hospitals the 193d at Val de Caens Field
near Belém, the 194th at Parnamirim Field near Natal..."
Brazilian influenza control measures
"In December 1943, upon the recommendation of its port health
authorities, the Brazilian Government requested the South Atlantic
Command to check all individuals arriving in Brazil by plane to
prevent the possible spread of influenza from the United States and
Great Britain. The Brazilian authorities appeared on the Natal field
one day prepared to take the temperatures of all personnel arriving at
that station. This obviously would have impeded Air Transport Command
activities. With the assistance of the U.S. Embassy in Rio de Janeiro,
a compromise was reached whereby only those individuals destined to
remain in Brazil would be examined. The Army Medical Department
assumed the responsibility of examining those individuals upon their
arrival at U.S. Army bases in Brazil."
Meanwhile, the United States negotiated with Brazil for rights to
establish an air base at Natal, a concession that was eventually
granted, and with other states for base rights in the Caribbean. The
second element of President Roosevelt's diplomatic prepa rations for
defense of the hemisphere... "
December 1941 - WWII Pacific Chronology
Wednesday, December 10, 1941
USN - Aircraft from Enterprise attacked and sank the Japanese
submarine I-70 in waters north of the Hawaiian Islands. This was one
of the submarines used to scout the Hawaiian area in connection with
the Pearl Harbor attack and the first Japanese combatant ship sunk by
United States aircraft during World War II. Antisubmarine patrols over
the South Atlantic were initiated by Patrol Squadron 52, equipped with
Catalinas operating from Natal, Brazil.
"The first four B-26Bs arrived at Natal in September of 1957, followed
by successive flights of four aircraft, the last ones arriving in
Brazil in February of 1958. When they arrived in... "
The Latin American Aviation Historical Society
This force of P-40s quickly became the first line of defense for the
country. By mid 1943, the FAB pilots had gained enough experience on
the type, to the point of launching patrol flights for coastal
defense, and relieved the U.S. Army Air Force in the task of
protecting, at least, the Brazilian part of the South Atlantic. Most
of this missions were flown from the air bases at Natal and Recife.
WWII US Air base Natal Brazil, US Army Air Force Natal Brazil,
Parnamirim Air Field